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  CNN    John King USA    News/Business. John King. Daily  
   political news and stories. New.  

    May 1, 2012
    3:00 - 4:00pm PDT  

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i'm anderson cooper. we welcome our viewers across the united states and around the globe to the special report, president obama addressing the american people from afghanistan, talking about the future of u.s. troops there and we are going to bring that to you live. >> lots of news happening now, dramatic developments covering the president's surprise visit to afghanistan like no one else can. we have our reporters in afghanistan, in pakistan, in washington, in new york, we're watching all of this unfold, our own john king will give us an inside look at what it's like to be on a secret presidential trip to a war zone. he's been on one before, our own erin burnett looks at al qaeda's future and our christiane amanpour and fareed zakariazaka. >> the president took a helicopter to kabul and signed a strategic partnership agreement with president hamid karzai.
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it could mark the beginning of the end of the war there. listen. >> neither americans nor the afghan people asked for this war, yet for a decade we've stood together to drive al qaeda from its camps to battle an insurgency and to give the people of afghanistan the possibility to live in peace and in dignity. the wages of war have been great for both our nations but today with the signing of this strategic partnership agreement we look forward to a future of peace. >> our nick payton-walsh is live in kabul. there were attacks in kabul two weeks ago that really rocked the capital. >> reporter: absolutely, this is a place where presidential security detail didn't feel enormously comfortable bringing him in daylight. u.s. and afghan officials doing their best to quash rumors about
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seven or eight hours ago that he was already in kabul. as you saw the president there addressing a hangar, many of those troops will perhaps be on their way home, bagram being a hub or many troops returning back to the united states and i think keen to try to suggest as he said a year ago the tide of war is still receding, choosing this anniversary, the death of bin laden, the man for americans the reason why they came to afghanistan, choosing the anniversary of his death to take this narrative an extra stage forwards and explaining exactly how america will tie up the loose ends of the decades-long war and how his presence will look like in the years ahead. >> nick what is the strategic partnership agreement? it doesn't talk about funding. those say this is more about, this isn't really, some saying kind of sets out the logistics of what's going to happen over the next ten years, after 2014. >> it's very strong on symbolism, not heavy on
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substance. it's important for america that it was signed, that it happened because for months there were outstanding issues that made it look like it may never come to fruition. it's important it was signed ahead of this vital summit in chicago in may, where nato allies have to put forward their contributions, financial and military for the years ahead but it leaves these vital questions, how much money is walking going to give kabul, and puts aside the vital question what kind of military presence will america have here in the years after nato's withdrawal, and what limitation als will there be? >> 20,000 troops from the so-called surge are supposed to leave starting in e amanpour is spoke to president ckarzai abou two weeks ago. >> this is symbolic but it will make a difference when it's completely negotiated because crucial elements have not been negotiated. president karzai wants to know he's not being abandoned.
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afghanistan wants to know it's not being abandoned, there will be a ten-year time period u.s. force also be there, by no means the same numbers. >> the president wanted to go to sign it there as a symbol that there is a commitment to afghanistan. >> to afghanistan, pakistan, to the taliban, to any of those who wish to seek a u.s. vacuum and try to fill that vacuum. the question is what does this mean is there there are important issues not negotiated. for instance the strategic forces agreement will afghanistan grant american forces immunity. >> a huge issue in iraq as well. >> it collapsed the ideal in iraq so no americans could stay in iraq. they wouldn't allow that. >> that's a sensitive issue given what's happened the last couple of months ina s accused number of afghan civilians. >> i asked president karzai will you expect somebody like
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sergeant bales to be tried under an afghan legal system, he said yes but he said it will depend on the relationship between the u.s. and afghanistan at the time. and the other thing, of course, is the afghans are now saying absolutely publicly there will be no drones allowed to take off from afghanistan to target terrorists wherever, in pakistan or else where. this is also a big issue. >> huge issue. >> when the u.s. takes its forces out, it will rely increasingly as it has already on the drone strikes so that's an issue, if they can't take off. >> the number of drone strikes by the obama administration has skyrocketed compared to under the bush administration and peter bergen recounts in his new book the impact it's had on al qaeda, the fear that drone strikes has caused al qaeda, osama bin laden wrote about it himself. >> absolutely right but still the militants in pakistan we saw two weeks ago with the audacious attack some say came across from pakistan and penetrated the very heart of the government, didn't
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get to the palace in kabul but it did get to the parliament and the other, of course, issue is remember, we all remember when the united states packed up and left after the soviets were defeated, this is what gave the space to the mujahadin, that led to the taliban that led to al qaeda that led to 9/11. this is what they're saying will not happen because we'll have presence here. >> the republican criticism of president obama announcing this withdrawal timetable you're allowing the taliban, giving them a timetable they can just wait it out. >> the crucial issue anderson and this is absolutely crucial, the united states does not believe that they can, that this is winnable on the battlefield even though they're making progress. the taliban is still there. they want to negotiate with the taliban. even now, despite all the talk about it, there is none of that going on in any formal fashion and many senior afghan leaders who fought the taliban don't want the taliban back anyway. >> a lot to talk about with
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christiane, she'll be here over the next several hours. we'll bring you the president's address live. let's go to wolf. >> john king is here, he's been watching all of this unfold as well. didn't take very long for some republicans to be critical of the president, the timing of this visit to afghanistan, on this, the one-year anniversary of bin laden's death. senator james inhoff of oklahoma saying it's good that the president goes and visits the troops in afghanistan but then he adds this, "unfortunately, this president has allowed washington and campaign politics to dictate his strategy in afghanistan rather than the conditions on the ground." >> well that is from isaa inhoff, conservative, frequent critic of the military issues and other issues saying the president's plan to draw down most troops from 2014, you've heard that from senator mccain and senator lieberman, the independent who used to be a democrat, senator graham, that group of republicans who said wait a minute, mr. president, they think he should have left troops in iraq, think you need a
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residual force and in too much of a hurry to get out of afghanistan. senator inhoff is almost a reflexive critic, criticizes the president all the time. most other republicans, including mitt romney, have decided, wolf, at least until after the speech tonight to hold their fire. it's hard to criticize the commander in chief for visiting the troops. there have been huge, outstanding issues with the afghan government so they want to read this gnaw agreement and it's short, as nick paton-walsh, it's short. what are the rules of engagement, where will the bases be, close to the dangerous areas, more protected? watch over the next several days, it is clear both as the commander in chief and as a candidate for re-election the president will dominate this day and we'll see what happens when the republicans start to look at the details. >> we're waiting to hear from the president. fareed zakaria is joining us as well. fareed, it's a blunt question but can the united states really trust the afghan president, hamid karzai? >> i think they can trust hamid
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karzai wants to have a good relationship with the united states. he has wanted that from the start. he was one of the most pro-american politicians in afghanistan at the conference which he was in effect anointed. karzai is treading a careful line. he knows that pakistan, his next door neighbor, is powerful, controls many of the militant groups who attack him, so he can't be anti-pakistani. he needs the americans as a ballast against them and has good relations with the indians. he is playing a tri-cornered game. it's not personal preferences but the strategic national interests of afghanistan as he correctly sees them require a very close relationship with the united states so i think we can trust in those permanent national interests of afghanistan. we don't have to worry very much about mr. karzai but to be fair to him, he has on this core issue of having a relationship
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with the united states, he has been very firm. now, there have been occasions where there have been clashes because a sergeant issue with the koran burning but those issues never detracted from the broader perspective karzai has had, wanted to have a good relationship with the united states. >> what did you think of what the president had to say at that signing ceremony about an hour, hour and a half or so at the presidential palace in kabul? because he's walking a delicate line right now. he's got a lot of different audiences that he's got to appeal to. >> i thought that it was sober and understandably so. it seemed that perhaps the main audience as with any president and perhaps certainly an election year was the american people. he was acknowledging that this had been a long war, this has been our longest war. he was acknowledging that it had been a tough road, that there wasn't a clean victory that you could look at, and he was acknowledging the fact that the relationship had not always been perfect, so i thought it was an
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attempt to frame the relationship as one that was solid, sober, and purposeful. he pointed out we did not ask to come to -- we did not seek to come to afghanistan. we were in effect forced in because of at tacthe atakz of 9. >> fareed, it's john. connect the geopolitical dots with the domestic dots. there is no escaping the moment. this is the first anniversary of the raid that led to the death of about osama bin laden. the president of the united states being in afghanistan on this day and then speaking to the american people tonight on what is, you can't escape the big policy calculations or the domestic political campaign calculations. >> i think that the political calculations were more obvious in the release of that ad in which the obama campaign questioned whether mitt romney would have taken out osama bin
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laden. i think that was blatantly political, if you'd like. here i think the president is behaving like the president. i think that the fact he chose the one-year anniversary, there was going to be some kind of marking of that event. he had to go to afghanistan. we've been discussing there were all these issues that had to be resolved, that there was a need to shore up the relationship after three months of pretty bad stuff that had happened. you also had the need as christiane was pointing out to signal to the pakistanis, the iranians that all of the neighbors, we may be drawing down troops but we're not going anywhere. here he's on very strong ground of saying look i'm commander in chief. this is important business that had to be done. yes, they picked an auspicious day one might say but had that ad not come out, there'd be a lot less questioning of the politics of today. it is the shadow of that ad
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which frankly was unfortunate. >> stand by, because we're following the breaking news, we're getting new information on how dangerous a mission this has been for the president of the united states. he will not see daylight while's in afghanistan. he arrived close to 11:00 p.m. local time. it's going to be about 4:00 a.m. when he will address the american people local time, and shortly after that, he'll board air force one to fly back to washington. we're getting new information about the danger, the safety of the president of the united states in afghanistan right now. stay with us. the breaking news will continue in a moment. >> we did not choose this war. this war came to us on 9/11. and there are a whole bunch of folks here i'll bet who signed up after 9/11. kiwi. soy milk. impulse buy. gift horse. king crab. rhubarb pie. lettuce shower. made by bees. toucan sam. that's not cheese. grass fed. curry. gingersnaps. soup can tower. 5% cash back.
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these are some of the pictures we've just been receiving, president obama on the ground during the night in kabul, afghanistan, arriving at bagram airbase, helicoptered in to kabul where he signed the strategic partnership agreement with the president, he's going
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to be addressing the united stat states, addressing the american public within an hour. we'll bring that to you live in a special report. the president is in kabul, getting ready to speak to the american people just over an hour, 7:30 eastern time exactly. we want to bring in barbara starr to talk about the level of security and danger involved in this, for any sitting president to take a trip into a war zone, in kabul, two weeks ago as i said to nick there were massive attacks in that city. >> absolutely. in a situation like this, one of the key ways the secret service keeps the president safe is keeping its travel plans secret. it doesn't get much riskier than sending the president of the united states into a war zone. president obama arrived at bagram airbase, afghanistan, under cover of darkness, with extraordinary security measures. reporters traveling with the
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president were sworn to secrecy. the secret service is prepared for anything that could happen. it starts with getting in, u.s. planes landing in afghanistan perform a cork screw type landing making sharp banks and turns to avoid heat seeking missiles. colonel mark tillman, now retired, cold wolf blitzer about secretly taking president george w. bush to baghdad in 2003 while combat raged. >> the challenge wasn't so much to get him in there because we easily fooled everybody and got him in there. the challenge was once he was on the grouped and everybody knew he was there to get him back out again, so we worked very hard to make sure he had minimum time on the ground. >> reporter: any longer and terrorists might be able to set up an attack. and over the years, bagram, right where the president landed, has come under repeated rocket and mortatar attacks.
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the president aboarded a helicopter with apache gunships providing escort. even the heavily protected area where the president headed to meet with hamid karzai is not totally secure. just last month the taliban pulled off multiple attacks in the green zone where the presidential palace, nato headquarters and the u.s. embassy are located. the secret service works to make sure there are no attacks, only a handful of u.s. officials and top military commanders even knew the president was coming. less information, more security is the way the president's men make it happen. now the president of course is running for re-election, as commander in chief, so in this election year, as with all things white house, there is that bit of a political overtone to all of it, but still, we saw the pictures a short time ago, the troops were absolutely thrilled to see president obama in afghanistan. wolf, back to you.
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>> barbara, thank you very much. i want to bring john king in once in. you've been on secret dangerous presidential visits to a war zone. remind our viewer, what's it like? >> i was on the bush trip to baghdad, the first trip to baghdad after maliki became prime minister. i was called by dan bartlett over the weekend, called asked if he could she he see me for coffee. i left the white house beat which i covered for eight 1/2 years. we need you to keep this secret, tell one boss, if you can, keep this from your family, we're worried about security. show up at andrew's air force base. when you get close to baghdad everything must be turned off. they took things away from us, they don't want any electronic signal from the plane. you remember from your days covering the white house on air force one in all of the press cabins there's a television and it says time in washington, time and place of local, wherever you're going, and this other three times, all the clocks were
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turned off, all of the power they could turn off, any external lights turned off, once you get over the airbase you go down quickly, sometimes they cork screw, sometimes they drop the plane but they want to get down on the ground quickly and go down over the base. when we were on the ground told to be incredibly careful, couldn't call in a pool report to the other networks to disclose the president was there until the white house gave us approval. when we left it was the most interesting part. by then you're on the ground for the few hours, the enemy knows you're there and where you are. president bush decided as president obama did to bring air force one. the secret service and military say please tick a non-descript plane but wanted the symbolism of the flag on the back of that 747. when we left again they took all of our electronic devices and raised their voices, don't do anything. close the windowshades, no light, no electronic signals. they ref the engine and 747 took off like that, it's a pretty
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impressive 747, but i've never had gs before on a 747. we took off, it was a fun ride, once you get to safety the pilot tells you okay and they hand you back your tools. let's talk more about the strategic challenge for the united states, wolf, as the president signs this new agreement but a lot of the missing details what we need to find out. general james "spider" marks is with us. the president will bring moat troops home by 2014. now they have a partnership agreement, they need to negotiate a strategic forces agreement. what are your biggest concerns? how many troops do you need to continue the mission, and where might they be vulnerable or not so vulnerable? >> john, i think the thing to talk about is what are the functions that need to be performed. i couldn't get into numbers, it would be a pure guess but clearly in order to sustain an ongoing mission in support of afghanistan, as it continues to grow in its governance and legitimacy, united states has to have an aggressive intelligence
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sharing arrangement. we'll have forces on the ground that will access national intelligence collection capabilities, those include not only overhead, those are satellites but also ground-based assets that the cia will continue to run. there has to be strong intelligence. you have to do something with that intelligence, which means there will be a continuing amount of pressure going against known terrorists, pockets of recyr resistance, and resistance throughout the country. it will be in the federal administrated tribal areas between afghanistan and pakistan >> help yourself. >> and in the southern regions and then as terrorist organizations offshoots, surrogates of al qaeda or the taliban pop up in different locations, the u.s. will track those and go after those. those are precise targeting missions. the u.s. will have the lead in that but in terms of the continuing training mission, the u.s. will be deeply involved in that, but in terms of normal law
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enforcement and border type operations the afghan forces will lead that. >> let me ask you a question what happened a year ago tonight the u.s. special forces went across the border when they had bin laden. would the president allow afghanistan to violate sovereignty again or is that a sensitive subject? >> it's sensitive. they have to agree to an arrangement going forward and i guarantee you that will be part of the negotiation for and during the agreement that exists between afghan sustain and the united states. >> it's been a decade at war, the american people are tired of it, the military in some ways it tired of it. why is it after ten years the afghans are not fully ready? >> john, it's where they started from. many have said facetiously i would say that afghanistan was at the 13th century when we arrived and moving it slowly into the 14th century.
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this is a nation that is only a nation defined by its neighbors. these are very tribal, very, very rustic type of existence, so how do you take and how do you embed that type of professional ethos that has to be in the law enforcement, as well as military forces. it takes a lot of time and we didn't begin that in earnest until about five or six years ago, after we'd been there our or five years. when we went into afghanistan we accomplished the mission quickly and we left a small presence, most of the country was covered by the afghan forces themselves and there weren't very many of those. >> appreciate your insights. the president prepares to tell the american people he's winding down in afghanistan, still a lot of questions and a lot of challenges for the next decade. >> still about 90,000 u.s. troops on the ground in afghanistan as of right now. stand by, everyone. we're just about an hour or so away from the president's address to the american people, live from afghanistan.
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we'll get details about the secret documents, also found bin laden's compound coming in, what they reveal about a terror threat potentially to the united states, right now. are
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welcome back to our breaking news coverage of president obama's surprise visit to afghanistan. we are waiting the president's address to the nation. he's going to be speaking about the new strategic partnership
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that he just signed outlining the areas of cooperation between the united states and afghanistan after the withdrawal of u.s. forces in 2014. though of course some u.s. force also still be on the ground, that is the plan after 2014. here's some of what the president said to u.s. forces on the ground at bagram airbase. >> because of the sacrifices now of a decade and a new greatest generation, not only were they able to blunt the taliban momentum, not only were we able to drive al qaeda out of afghanistan, but slowly and systematically, we have been able to decimate the ranks of al qaeda and a year ago we were able to finally bring osama bin laden to justice. >> the taliban still obviously
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very much a presence in afghanistan, able to operate, not just in the bore for regions, along pakistan but also in the heart, the capital of kabul as we saw a few weeks ago. john king joining me from washington. >> anderson, thank you so much. i'm joined by a man who knows the intelligence challenge of tracking al qaeda and it's leadership, general michael hayden. let me ask you a question one year after the death of aboutle billion al qaeda as a global terrorist entity. >> right. i don't know, we're in a good place. i want to describe a measure of our success. al qaeda here, infinitely less capable of where they were one, three, five, ten years ago. their ability to conduct the kind of attack they want to conduct, the mass casualty attack against the iconic target infinitely reduced. again a measure of success, what we've now seen the franchises, al qaeda in yemen, al qaeda in
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somalia, al qaeda in islamic boca haram. that makes it more dangerous. folks doing my old job makes it a bit more complex but again it's good news, because al qaeda's ability to do that mass attack much reduced. let me give you a summary. future attacks against the united states will be less well organized, less complex, less likely to succeed, less lethal if they do succeed. the bad news, john, they could be more numerous. >> could be more numerous. the president talks about another decade of partnership with afghanistan, we don't know how many troops, exactly what it will look like. is the threat, the reason for that to keep al qaeda and the taliban from reconstituting or is that threat gone and another challenge, keeping iran from expanding its influence? >> no and i think the administration has been on point, pointing out we're safer but not yet safe and we have to keep doing what we have been doing to keep this organization where it is now, far less
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capable. we went in to afghanistan because of the attacks against us. that's reason enough to stay but john, life goes on. things happen. we've gotten more attachments with what goes on inside this country, a lot of people, good people in afghanistan have pinned their future to us. have pinned their future to a free, more pluralistic afghanistan, we owe them something, too. >> i was talking about earlier when i flew in to baghdad with the president in 2006 he was advised to take a non-decrypt military plane. he wanted to take air force one, wanted the picture of the flag on the ground in baghdad. president obama made the same decision. if you were still there, would you advise against that and why is it ten years later, why is it so dicey and dangerous that the president of the united states has to go in under the cover of darkness and they have to keep it a secret? >> i would have advised him to go in on a have nil lac-17 and would not have been surprised if the sitting president said no, we're going on air force one because i'm the president of the
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united states, and my being there with all the symbolism of that office is very important for the message i want to send. this is a very important visit, john. i mean to establish, to put in play president obama's personal prestige and personal political capital in the future of the american presidency in afghanistan is really important. >> risky, though. you say important. ten years later how risk why i? >> mathematically i think the risk is very, very low but mathematically we've got one president and that's why we have to take all these precautions. >> general hayden appreciate your insights. wolf, you understand there, a good assessment of the challenge going forward in terms of the terrorist threat and why ten years after, still the president has to go in under the cover of darkness and the cloak of secrecy. >> speaks volume of how badly the situation remains in afghanistan that the president of the united states can't visit the country during daylight hours and has to do it in total secrecy. we're getting excerpts of what
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the president will say in his address in less than an hour. we'll share the excerpts right when we get back. >> some of your buddies are going to get injured, and some of your buddies may get killed, and there's going to be heartbreak and pain, and difficulty ahead. but there's a light on the horizon, because of the sacrifices you've made. [ male announcer ] this is corporate caterers, miami, florida.
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than an hour from now he'll be addressing the american people. we're just getting in excerpts of what the president plans, let's go to white house correspondent brianna keilar. share some of the excerpts with our viewers. >> we're getting some of these ahead of the president's address here in an hour. let me read to you off of my blackberry, we just got these. the iraq war is over, the president will say the number of our troops in harm's way has been cut in half, and more will be coming home soon. we have a clear path to fulfill our mission in afghanistan, while delivering justice to al qaeda. the president in these excerpts released by the white house says as well as we emerge from a decade of conflict abroad and economic crisis at home, it is a time to renew america, and perhaps later in his remarks he says this time of war began in afghanistan, and this is where it will end, and wolf, that's one of the reasons that senior administration officials are giving for why the president is in afghanistan on this anniversary.
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we heard from some senior administration officials who said that this was where osama bin laden was, that afghans have suffered a lot, they've suffered a lot because of his actions and so it's appropriate that the president is there. >> yep, and the president presumably will mention bin laden's death, exactly one year ago, in his remarks. stand by, fareed zakaria joins us right now. he's got to be very sensitive on what he says on this, the first anniversary of bin laden's death, doesn't he, fareed? >> he does have to be particularly because of what we've all been talking about for the last few days after that campaign ad of his, but i think what those excerpts and you know i'm doing a little bit of reading of tea leaves here, what it suggests is that president obama is setting out a strategy which is to say we are done with nation building. we are done even with general petraeus' broad counter-insurgency strategy which involved tens of thousands of troops. we are moving to a narrow
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counterterrorism mission. he almost seems to be saying that the war on terror as it had been conceived, articulated and defined for the last decade is over. it began in afghanistan, it ended in afghanistan, and it ended really over the last year with the des macimation of al qaeda. the new strategic agreement between the united states and afghanistan is a way for president obama to say we're transitioning out of nation building, moving to counterterrorism, the war is over. >> that's what he's going to say and we'll hear it from the president in about 45 minutes or so. fareed, stand by. back to anderson. >> i'm here with christiane amanpour. no one in the bush and obama administration liked to use the termination building but we have been nation building in afghanistan, attempting to at least. the question now, is the afghan nation ready to stand on its own? are the security forces, the police, the afghan national army ready? >> precisely that and as fareed said yes that is the message the
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white house wants to deliver the war is over but is it? we have at least another year before the u.s. forces are there. how many will stay to beat back the taliban. they are not defeated no matter what spin anybody wants to put on them. there are areas of progress but in the east of the country they're still there. what about the relationship with pakistan? absolutely crucial if the united states wants to leave afghanistan in any sense of reasonable security, what about pakistan? that is a relationship u.s. and pakistan that has to be repaired and it's not. >> you can't fight the war in afghanistan without essentially fighting the war in pakistan or addressing the safe havens of pakistan. >> and addressing the safe havens. i've mentioned president karzai told me they would not allow drone strikes. they won't allow those to take off from paf began stand to attack any foreign countries, what the president told me. what about the afghan forces? there was a great hulabaloo about raising say nearly over a quarter of a million forces.
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now that's going to be reduced by at least 100,000 because neither afghanistan is can afford it nor the united states nor the other international countries. >> they had a huge problem with the afghan national forces with the army and the police, with getting them to re-sign, to give them this training and essentially a lot of them, some will desert, go back to their homes, to farms, some won't re-sign so all of the training they have to start again. >> and what about the spike in afghan force violence against u.s. and coalition troops recently? that's the most serious spike in violence that we've been seeing over the last several weeks and months, and that is very, very nerve-wracking if that is what is going to be relied upon. i think there's good news and also a huge amount of work still to be done and this war is not over, and the taliban have not come to negotiate, and i think that that is something that the u.s. has to really look at they mustn't waste all this ten years there. >> it is extraordinary, i remember being in afghanistan of may of 2002 i guess it was and
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everyone talking about training the afghan national army was a huge priority and for years they dropped the ball, basically moved -- we didn't have a lot of troops on the ground, didn't have the capabilities of early training. there was special forces but it's only the last couple of years this has become the primary mission, even though all along people are paying lip service to that. >> exactly for the reasons before, there have been all of these challenges towards that but also in terms of good governance. one of the aspects under this strategic partnership agreement is to have and maintain good governance and the proper democracy in afghanistan which is key. >> huge xrupgs issues throughout afghanistan. >> that's key to how this plays out. president karzai is happy. this is a relationship based on mutual interest, mutual respect, two sovereign nations together, happy that the u.s. won't be bolting but we'll see how much stays. >> and the definite sill in the details and still not a lot of details in the strategic partnership agreement that's been signed. the president will be speaking
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less than an hour from now. certainly not the first commander in chief to go overseas, his critics say so score political points with a photo photo-op, we'll talk about that ahead. we're tracking the presidential news conference, coming up. we'll be right babble with. makes the world work. in high school, i had a physics teacher by the name of mr. davies. he made physics more than theoretical, he made it real for me. we built a guitar, we did things with electronics and mother boards. that's where the interest in engineering came from. so now, as an engineer, i have a career that speaks to that passion. thank you, mr. davies. [ male announcer ] for our families... our neighbors... and our communities... america's beverage companies have created a wide range of new choices. developing smaller portion sizes and more low- & no-calorie beverages... adding clear calorie labels so you know exactly what you're choosing...
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getting lots of reaction, the president of the united states making ail surprise visit to afghanistan, at the bagram airbase right now getting ready to address the american people,
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in about 40 minutes or so from now. we want to go to jim acosta, covering the romney campaign for us, jim acosta is in philadelphia, any reaction from the romney folks? what are you picking up, jim? >> reporter: oh, right now, no, wolf. actually it's business as usual right now for mitt romney. he and his wife, ann romney, are at a fund-raiser just outside of philadelphia. it is a closed fund-raiser so the press is not allowed inside. i can't get a sense of what he's saying but i can tell you that just by the appearance of not really hearing much from the romney campaign, that it seems that the presumptive gop nominee is allowing the president to have this moment. i will say earlier today, he was at a new york city fire station along with rudy giuliani. he did come out and talk to reporters briefly and i asked him the question whether or not he thought it was inappropriate for the president to use a white house news conference to sort of call him out on whether or not he would have gone after osama bin laden, and mitt romney said,
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no, he didn't think it was appropriate but he said the president deserves credit for making that call. we will see some campaigning from mitt romney over the next couple of days. he's going to be in virginia tomorrow, and on thursday, and as you know, wolf, that's an important battleground state. even though the romney campaign and the candidate himself are laying low right now, that will be changing in short order, you can rest assured that. >> short order. >> jim acosta in philadelphia. another battle ground state, pennsylvania. tom, other republicans are reacting, this being a presidential election year. >> and they are trending a little bit cautiously. some like john mccain said it is a good thing to make this trip. others are saying because of the timing and the osama bin laden killing anniversary and because of the election they want it to be known that they have the doubts about the motivation behind this trip. >> reporter: even with the president still on the ground in afghanistan conservative critics back home were going on the
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attack. long-time republican senator of oklahoma went after the president calling the trip campaign related and an attempt to sure up his national security credentials. in short, political grand standing. the president has been under fire from the right for several weeks already. >> there is nothing that will stop us. >> reporter: republican national committee has asked the government accountability office to investigate his visits to several battle ground states. >> we will finish what we started in 2008. >> reporter: which conservatives complain they were campaign rallies. >> you know it and i know it. it's time for the obama campaign to pony up and reimburse the treasury. >> reporter: he would hardly be the first president to do it. >> mr. gorbachev, tear down this
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wall. >> reporter: such high profile appearances can be a gamble. exactly nine years ago today after the invasion of iraq president bush landed on an aircraft carrier 30 miles from california wearing a jet fighter's flight suit to give a speech. >> the united states and our allies have prevailed. >> reporter: liberals called it pure political theater from the start. as the war desnded into years many other voters seemed to settle on the same opinion. it is not at all clear how much appetite the republicans have for this particular news and criticizing it. the blog sphere out there and lighting up with those who are angry about it. how many? we don't know. what the president says tonight may matter a lot. the justification as to why he went there and whether or not to blunt the criticism. >> we'll see how he does in his
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speech which is expected to be about ten minutes. candy, politics in a political season like this. gloria is here, as well. candy, to you should we be surprised that people are expressing their political views on a sensitive subject like afghanistan? >> i would be surprised if they didn't. even if there isn't political motivation there is always a political implication because it is 2012 and a presidential election year. so far as this trip is concerned why you are see republicans being pretty circumexpect about this and saying the presidentt is over there i think part of this is he is over there with the troops. he is going to give a speech over there. i think this is a significantly different arena than, say, the ad that his reelection campaign put out using the death of bin laden and questioning whether mitt romney would have made the same decision the president did.
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i think that was much more political. the republicans jumped all over this. in terms of the politicians the president is overseas. there is a delicacy to this particularly when he is in a war zone with u.s. troops which is something they cheer about. i think this is different than the political ad which took so much heat. >> gloria, you are here as well. they have to be really sensitive. romney is being smart. wait until the president is back into washington. >> as much as they complained about the osama bin laden ad which asked the question and i might point out it is a web advertisement which asks the question would mitt romney had followed the same path. i think they are being very careful because the president is abroad. however, i was e-mailing with somebody in the white house who's traveling to kabul with the president and i e-mailed before learning that the
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republicans were circumsp ct the pauns was we are signing a very important agreement that helps put the war to a close and the president was going to spend the day with the troops. what better day to do it than today. it is very clear they are aware this is an important anniversary to them. they are bringing an unpopular war to a close. and this is the way they are going to get an awful lot of attention for doing it. >> to a certain degree a lot of conservative republicans are more in line with the president's time table in bringing this war in afghanistan to a close. another 2 1/2 years a lot of democrats would like the president to pick up and get out of there right away. >> in many ways the republican party has grown more and more isolationist and that's because it has become an economic issue
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because they believe we cannot afford to continue to fight this war. the real problem that mitt romney has with the president is the withdrawal time table and essentially he believes allowing al qaeda to lay and wait for us to leave and then pounce. what this agreement is about is saying to the people of afghanistan that, in fact, we will be there in some way shape or form beyond 2014 for ten years and our purpose is to keep al qaeda from coming back out of the shadows. >> and that would be what a lot of folks want to hear. >> we are only about a half an hour or so away from the president of the united states addressing the american people in afghanistan. our special coverage continues right after this. hey dad.
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